A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

9 May 2017 — 1146 mdt

Them polls, them polls, them damn polls —
They still show Greg’s leading Rob

A month ago, a Gravis poll reported Greg Gianforte was leading Rob Quist by 12 percentage points. Last Thursday, the day the U.S. House voted to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act, another Gravis poll reported Gianforte’s lead had shrunk to seven points. Gianforte has dropped below 50 percent, and undecideds have increased, but Quist is holding steady at slightly below 40 percent.

All the polls sampled likely voters, but not all used the same methodology. Emerson College used a automatic dialer and interactive voice technology (a robopoll) but called only landlines (robo calling cell phones is illegal). Gravis robopolled landlines, and used the internet to survey voters with cell phones. Garin-Hart-Yang did not disclose its method.

Garin-Hart-Yang sampled a population of “midterm voters,” but did not define the term. Midterm voters could mean people who voted in 2014. Or, it could mean voters who said they were voting in the 2018 midterm election. The Garin poll, incidentally, asked voters whether they were “leaning” toward Gianforte or Quist. Without leaners, Gianforte led by six points, 44–38 percent. With leaners, Gianforte still led by six points, 49–43 percent. I graphed the 44–38 version, adding the leaners to the undecideds column.

If Gianforte has lost ground to Quist, why has he lost it? One possibility is that his numbers are being pounded down by the negative campaign Democratic aligned third parties are waging against the Bozeman businessman. Another possibility is that Montana’s voters are becoming concerned they will lose their health insurance, and are not eager to send to Congress a man who will caucus with the health care wrecking Republican Party.

Quist’s problem is that the clock is running out, thanks to Gov. Bullock’s decision to hold the election at the earliest possible date. Although the seat is open, Republicans have held it for 20 years, and Gianforte has an organizational advantage from having run last year. Thus, the earliest possible date favors the GOP.

At the Billings Gazette, Tom Lutey has a worth reading story on the polls.